Tahlequah Daily Press

December 18, 2013

Sooners escape against UT-Arlington

By JOHN SHINN
CNHI

— NORMAN — The exhaustion Oklahoma was feeling Tuesday night obvious. It was clinging to a two-point when it huddled for the last time with two seconds to go against Texas-Arlington.

OU just needed one more stop to scratch out a victory. It didn’t really get the stop. The Mavericks’ Brandon Edwards had an uncontested 18-footer at the buzzer that rimmed out. The Sooners didn’t celebrate as much as the breathed a sigh of relief over the 91-89 victory at Lloyd Noble Center.

“We can’t rely on our scoring all the time,” OU guard Buddy Hield said.

That was only thing the Sooners really had going for them. They’ve allowed 180 points in their last two games, dating to last Saturday’s win over Tulsa. Yet they’ve won both.

It was the kind of game OU senior forward Cameron Clark tends to thrive in. He scored 31 points and hit two free throws with 9 seconds remaining to put the Sooners over the top.

Clark, who played 36 minutes, has showed that kind of endurance throughout his career. The lanky forward just doesn’t seem to get tired.

“When we get out in transition, that’s when I excel,” Clark said. “My teammates did a good job of finding me … We were able to break their press and knock down shots.”

Hield, who scored 19 points and was 4 for 8 from 3-point range doesn’t seem to have a frenetic pace either.

Point guard Jordan Woodard, who also played a season-high 36 minutes, seemed like he could sleep for a week when OU left the floor.

There was no choice but to ride Woodard as long as the Sooners could. Without him on the floor, things got sloppy in a hurry. He checked out of the game a little over 7 minutes in with OU leading by 10. After three quick turnovers (two by Isaiah Cousins and one by Frank Booker) led the transition baskets for the Mavericks and the lead being chopped down to one point, the break was over.

“We didn’t handle it very well when Jordan went out,” Kruger said. “We didn’t it over a couple times and they (the Mavericks) got their heads up. They made their run. We have to do a better job with that.”

Woodard only scored seven points, but he handed out a career-high 12 assists.

The Mavericks (4-7) put together a 14-0 run midway through the first half that changed the complexion of the game. In the opening minutes, the Sooners (10-1) appeared to be cruising toward a blowout victory.

Once Texas-Arlington guard Reger Dowell, a transfer from Oklahoma State, got hot, the game became very interesting. Dowell scored 30 points and was 5 for 9 from the 3-point range.

The ability to hit 3-pointers in the second half kept the Mavericks in it. They finished the night 13 for 33 from beyond the arc. The last one to fall was a bomb from Jamel Outler, who scored 17 points, with 97 seconds left to cut OU’s lead to two points. Edwards tied it up with a pair of free throws with 41 ticks remaining.

The difference was OU was able to get the ball to its best scorer on their final possession. The Mavericks were not.

Clark drove and got fouled with nine seconds and drained both free throws to give the Sooners the lead.

Texas-Arlington tried to free up Dowell for its final shot, but had to settle for Edwards’ jumper. It was one of many open shots the Sooners allowed Tuesday. That one didn’t fall.

“It’s been a struggle all year long,” Kruger said about the Sooners’ ability to defend. “I thought we’d made a little progress at it. Their guards were quick and give them credit. But still, we’ve got to work a little harder.”